Work Life Balance and Benefits Thesis

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Thesis on Work Life Balance and Benefits Assignment

The research endeavor presented here concerns the relationship between the changing needs of the current generation of workers and the persistent need for effective work/life balance strategies and employing firms. The primary problem discussed in the research is the twofold issue: of employing companies failing to establish work/life balance strategies; or the failure of employing companies to evolve in these strategies according to the changing needs of Generation Y personnel. The literature review will center on the connections between changes in culture, technology and the global labor pool and the different needs of today's workers, particularly as these needs contrast traditional work/life balance strategies. The Literature Review section examines that which is meant by work/life balance; how this is successfully or unsuccessfully approached by existing firms; how changes in the experience of the modern employee are manifesting in changes in work/life balance needs; and how intuitive steps must be taken in order to achieve a positive work/life balance that connects to such desired and interrelated outcomes of improved employee morale, improved performance, improved organizational culture and improved quality assurance. The literature review is followed by a case study of Wegmans Food Markets, which was selected based on its recurrence during the search for resources on work/life balance. The firmed turned up as consistently ranked highly by external sources for its achieving of positive employee work/life balance programs. The case study will assess these rankings -- which are intended to reflect traditional measures of positive employee work/life balance -- in light of the experience of actual Wegmans' personnel -- whose views are intended to reflect the perception of the current generation of employees on how effectively such measures achieve the necessary balance. The findings will reflect a disconnect between the consistently high rankings of Wegmans Food Markets in the area of work/life balance and the experience of the current generation of workers. The conclusion denotes that this appears to confirm the findings of the Literature Review and the basic hypothesis that there is a need for many organizations to adjust work/life balance policies to meet the changing needs of the current generation of workers.

Work/Life Balance and the Changing Needs of the Modern Worker

Introduction

The life of the modern worker is undergoing a wide range of changes today and company leaders, employers and decision makers are struggling to remain responsive to these changes. The emerging generation of employees, characterized by sociological theorists as Generation Y and being attributed hazily to births in the years between the mid 1970s and the early 1990s, has come of age in a time of rampant technological expansion, a wild proliferation of information accessibility, a dismantling of the communicational and economic barriers between nations and a host of cultural changes inclining the greater embrace of multiculturalism. These are conditions all which have significantly altered these employment landscape from that which sprawled out before previous generations of employees.

In particular, these conditions have changed the way that employees perceive, approach or experience their familial, home-life and personal needs. They have also changed perceptions as to the boundaries between these two dimensions of one's life, leading to a protracted theoretical discourse in the organizational setting on how best to retain high employee morale without sacrificing productivity goals. The dilemma is at the root of the policies developed by myriad companies either to nurture or intervene with positive work/life balance. This induces the need for the research which is to be conducted hereafter. As the Problem Statement provided hereafter will explain in greater detail, the array of changes in the experience of the modern worker have only further illuminated the importance of establishing clear work/life balance programs and policies. Indeed, research will connect positive achievement of this balance with desirable organizational outcomes such as high employee morale and consequently high employee performance. This denotes the overarching hypothesis of the present Literature Review and subsequent case study involving employee work/life balance at Wegmans Food Markets. Namely, the research hypothesizes that employment firms have not yet identified or adjusted to the labor conditions facing the current generation of employees by creating programs that effectively facilitate their evolving work/life balance needs.

Problem Statement

The Literature Review and Research Methodology engaged here below center on the common premise that many companies fall short of achieving work/life balance for their employees because they fail to remain abreast of changing personal, familial and cultural needs. As the economy endures a sustained recession and approaches to employment are altered by the labor prerogatives of globalization, many firms have not evolved to meet the needs of a new generation of workers. Features such as the educational attainment, access to information technology, communicational dexterity, familial perspective and diversity of racial, national or ethnic background are creating a new workforce. The so-called Generation Y workforce has a new set of personal, social, psychological and economic needs that, the researchers here hypothesize, are not being met by current strategies for attaining work/life balance in American manufacturing or retail contexts.

This problem can be characterized in two basic dimensions, which are the failure of current companies to consider the philosophical, practical and organizational benefits of creating this work/life balance for their employees; and the failure of companies who desire to create this work/life balance to adapt their strategies according to the aforementioned changes in the needs of the current generation of workers. The degree of importance which this problem registers in the context of organizational management is underscored both by the humanitarian and the practical implications of work/life balance.

These implications intercede in the recommendations made by the Mayo Clinic Staff (2010) which assert the importance of work/life balance to the psychological and physiological well-being of individuals. Here, the Mayo Clinic Staff alludes to the pertinence of changing employment conditions and parameters for the current generation of workers and implies that this is altering the nature of the challenge that is encapsulated by the work/life balance. The Mayo Clinic Staff denotes that "there was a time when the boundaries between work and home were fairly clear. Today, however, work is likely to invade your personal life -- and maintaining work-life balance is no simple task." (p. 1) These Literature Review and research conducted hereafter will consider the implications of this task in light of the cultural, technological and economic conditions that are constantly in a state of flux.

The article by the Mayo Clinic goes on to emphasize this idea that the needs of individual employees are constantly in flux, suggesting that employing firms must work hard to achieve the kind of flexibility and compassion demanded by each individual employee if they are to yield the best possible performance outcomes. As this relates to the central problem of the present research, the Mayo Clinic Staff reports that "striking a healthy work-life balance isn't a one-shot deal. Creating work-life balance is a continuous process as your family, interests and work life change." (p. 2) This denotes that an inherent part of each individual's working life cycle is a changing definition for what translates to a satisfying or fulfilling work/life balance. The modern firm will project these evolving needs and design its programs and Human Resource strategies to facilitate these needs pragmatically.

Rauh (2010) supports this claim, indicating that pertinent research shows a disconnect between the evolving needs of the modern worker and the perception of employers regarding that which yields the greatest productivity outcomes. Accordingly, Rauh reports on an interview with professor of psychology at Kent State University Stevan Hobfoil, who indicates that "there's a mythology in the workplace that more hours means more.' . . . Demonstrate that you can deliver the same or better results in fewer hours. Your job performance 'should never be judged in terms of hours of input,' Hobfoll says. Protecting your private time often leads to 'greater satisfaction in both work life and personal life, greater productivity, and more creativity.'" (Rauh, p. 1)

This denotes that at the root of the problem discussed here is a changing set of views on the relationship between work/life balance and performance outcomes. The Literature Review will set out to characterize these changes and the various challenges produced thereby. The subsequent research approach will set out to demonstrate the most pertinent findings drawn from the review of literature.

Literature Review

The present literature review centers on the problem of changing worker needs where work/life balance is concerned. Findings have been gathered with the intention of producing a basic overview on what is meant by work/life balance; how this is successfully or unsuccessfully approached by existing firms; how changes in the experience of the modern employee are manifesting in changes in work/life balance needs; and how intuitive steps must be taken in order to achieve a positive work/life balance that connects to such desired and interrelated outcomes of improved employee morale, improved performance, improved organizational culture and improved quality assurance.

Wood (2005) provides a basic definition to work/life balance which is used as an overarching framework… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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